Home Education~Ministry Moments~Hearth and Home

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

First Week of Advent!

     Two days ago I put together our family's Advent wreath.  I decided to place the Advent wreath next to my Nativity set.  This post is related to a previous post where I shared about our family beginning the book, Jotham's Journey.  Our whole family really loves it.  We have enjoyed lighting the Advent candle then sitting by the fire in the evening as my husband reads the story.  There is even a devotional that follows the reading for each day.  I love how it all fits together. The book has already grabbed our attention!  
Jotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent  -     
        By: Arnold Ytreeide

Ceramic Loaf Pan Giveaway Entry Date has been Extended!

    It is still not too late to try and win the Giada Ceramic Loaf Pan Giveaway mentioned  here in an earlier post  .  Now the deadline is December 8th.  (So whomever wins it can still have time to bake holiday bread or give it as a Christmas gift!)  Make sure you are an official follower before you enter.  (Click "join this site".) 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Tools Not Toys" (from Sonlight Blog)


 I just read this great post and had to share it!  This is a must read before you do your Christmas shopping for your child/nieces/nephews/grandchildren. 

 "A child can have too many toys, but never too many books."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

GratiTuesday---Two Kinds of Lists

     I love lists.  What I love most about lists is checking off what I've completed on my ("to do") lists.  Such satisfaction!  My children are big list-makers, so is my husband.  I guess you could call us a list-making family!
     I've been thinking about lists lately.  Thanksgiving lists and Christmas lists, to be specific.  Everyone is familiar with the "What I want for Christmas List".  Kids love those.  My children write theirs every year with great anticipation.  Making the "list" is half the fun!!
     There is also the Thanksgiving list-- the  "What I am Thankful for" list.  This one is not as popular, but so important.  This is the list where we "count our blessings"--where we remember to be thankful for things we have NOW, not for things we WISH we had. 
     I was thinking (during my husband's sermon on thanksgiving) how appropriate it is that we celebrate Thanksgiving before, and in close proximity to Christmas.  Thanksgiving is a great reminder to be content and grateful for what the Lord has given us---this before all the hustle and bustle of materialism that will be in full swing about the time our thanksgiving feasts turn into turkey sandwiches. 
     I encourage you (and you can encourage your children--Go here if you want some cute and colorful lists your children and others can fill in.) to make your "Thanksgiving List" before you make (or finish) your "Christmas Wish List".  It just might affect this things you ask for! :)

"...for I have learned to to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."     Philippians 4:ll(b)-13

Monday, November 21, 2011

Holiday School: A Thanksgiving Reading

 I wanted to share a Thanksgiving Reading/Devotional I found recently.  I plan to read this to my children on or before Thanksgiving Day.  We don't have family arriving until after Thanksgiving Day, so I am working on some fun "Holiday School" things for us to do together since we'll have more time with just our family.  (Note: to save myself colored ink, I just copied the text and pasted it onto a blank document page, then printed that out.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"Pitching Our Tent" in Sunday School

     One of my joys in life is to teach preschoolers, especially about the Lord.  I currently teach 3 and 4 year olds at my church.  I just had to share our lesson today, since it was about King David and how he "pitched a tent"for the Ark of the Covenant. (not the part in the Bible for which my blog is named, but it works..!)  I had such a good morning with my boys and girls.

Reading the Bible and our "Thank You, God" Book in the tent

We found a picture of a church tent in our "Read to Me" Bible.  We took wooden blocks and fabric scraps to build church tents.  The 3's and 4's really enjoyed this.  I told the Bible Story as they built.

One of the children with his tent.  I love the ramp he made for the entrance.  He's placing the Ark of the Covenant inside.  (I did tell him that in the Bible they carried it on poles, but left out the part out about being struck dead if you touched it!...)

The children really loved the crowns they made.  They were so cute wearing them around the room as they played. 

     I hope to share more of our lessons with you.  That way, parents of these precious children can get a peek at what we do and see their kids in action.  I hope I can also inspire or encourage any other Sunday School teachers out there.  There are so MANY wonderful ways to teach kids the Bible, and in way that they can learn best.

*** If you'd like to follow my blog, please scroll down and look to the right.  Go this post from yesterday to enter for a chance to win a Giada for Target Ceramic Bread Loaf Pan. ***

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Product Review: Giada De Laurentiis Ceramic Loaf Pan

Giada De Laurentiis™ for Target® Ceramic Loaf Pan - 9x5"
The Giada Ceramic Loaf Pan

A few weeks ago I asked my sweet husband to pick up for me a few bread loaf pans while he was "in the big city." (We live 40 minutes away, in a small town.)  I requested he purchase ceramic pans, just like the one I already owned.  The brand I was looking for was sold out, so we moved on to plan "B".  I asked him to go to Target -- I remembered them selling quality ceramic dishes, a brand name that started with a "G".  He found them!  Over the phone he said, "I really think you are going to like these.  They are even pretty."  He brought them home, and I am thrilled with them.  First, just the facts, ma'am:
Giada Ceramic Loaf pans are light-beige on the outside with a white interior.  They measure 9"x5".  Each pan weighs 3.0 pounds.  They are tarnish, rust, odor, heat, and warp resistant.  (An online Giada recipe even says it can be put in your freezer.) They are microwave safe.  The manufacturer recommends they be hand-washed only.  You can purchase this pan at Target's website for $16.99. (The picture above is a link.) The Giada loaf pan is also sold as a part of a 6 pc. ceramic bakeware set at Target for $49.99. (Again, see link.)

Letha says~~~

     I recommend these pans, especially if you bake often.  The bread I have baked has come out flawlessly. (I pre-butter, but not heavily.)  I love that they are ceramic so there is no chance of that "metal taste" you can get from a metal loaf pan.  Also, there is no need of worrying that the non-stick coating will peel off. 
    These pans take a little TLC.  They need to be hand-washed. (Oops!  I did not see that until after I had washed them in the dishwasher twice!...But they are fine.)  They can also be broken...an obvious observation, but one you might want to consider. 
     One of my favorite things about this loaf pan is it is so attractive. (It has a simple beauty to it. So, if you like bright colors or designs, you may want to keep looking.) I spend much time in the kitchen, and having pretty cookware makes it more enjoyable. I think the handles on the loaf pan "make" the design.  They are more than just nice to look at, though.  The curved handles make it very easy to remove this hot pan from the oven.  The only problem is I find myself not wanting to take out the baked bread from the pan because it just looks so good!  See what I mean:
     The price mentioned above ($16.99) is the online price.  We were able to purchase our pans in-store for $15.29 each. (This was a sale price.)  These are not inexpensive pans, but I've learned over the years that purchasing quality the first time saves money over the long haul. If, however, you are an every-once-in-a-blue-moon kind of baker, you might not want to fork over the money for a ceramic loaf pan. 
     This is a versatile loaf pan.  I look forward to making pumpkin bread in it for Thanksgiving.  It would also make a great gift for Christmas; just fill it with baking items and put it in a clear gift bag, just like you would a gift basket.  Whatever the occasion, this pan delivers both design and function.

First Giveaway!!!

Giada De Laurentiis™ for Target® Ceramic Loaf Pan - 9x5"
You can win this Giada Ceramic Loaf Pan! 
(See my last post here for details about the item.)
Here's how you can win:
1) Become a follower of justpitchingmytent. ***Click "Join this Site"***.  You will need to start an account if you don't already have one. (free)     (If you already are an official "follower", then you can skip this step!)
2) Leave a message below stating that you are a follower, and what your favorite bread is.
3) To increase you chances, invite others to follow my blog.  If they become followers, and mention you in their comment, then you will be entered 5 more times for each new follower!!
4) ***This prize is only available to mailing addresses in the Continental United States. 
Contest ends Wednesday, November 30th. Winner will be announced December 1st.
*Now extended until December 8th at midnight! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blog Update (to all my blog peeps, wherever you are!)

First of all, thanks for taking time to read my blog.  I have been trying to "perfect" it over these last several months.  I hope I have helped, inspired or encouraged you along the way. 

The focus of my blog covers 3 areas:  ministry, educating at home, and frugal homemaking.  It has taken me awhile to figure out what my exact focus is, but these continually are the things I blog about, because they are what I'm passionate about. 

I have recently adjusted my settings on my blog, and hope that this makes it easier for you to leave comments, etc.  I truly enjoy having a blog.  I am learning so much!  (And it's cheaper than professional therapy!---hehe!)

Starting a New Christmas Tradition

     Our family will begin a new Christmas tradition this year.  We will be celebrating Advent each evening with the help of a book series I found out about recently.  We will begin this year with the first book, Jotham's Journey.  You can read more about it here:

Jotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent  -     
        By: Arnold Ytreeide

     I'm keeping it a "surprise" until the first day of Advent, but wanted to share this information  with my readers in case you wanted to order one.  I found CBD (Christian Book Distributors) to have the best price, plus we have ordered from them several times, and always had a good experience.  Our copy of Jotham's Journey came in the mail a few days ago, so I'm excited to get started.  I'll be picking up my candles for the Advent Wreath this week.  (The Advent wreath is lit each night during the storytime.)  I will keep you updated on how my boys like it.  I've heard that the stories are very exciting, and that your kids will keep begging for more. 


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Month of Praise and Wisdom

     Last night we finished chapter 7, "The Bible" in our family devotional guide, Faith Conversations for Families.

 Faith Conversations for Families  -     
        By: Jim Burns

     At the end of the chapter, it encouraged family members to chose a scripture reading plan.  My husband and youngest son are already reading through a book of the Bible, but my oldest and I chose the "Month of Praise and Wisdom".  We will be reading 5 Psalms and 1 Proverb a day.  I'm excited about this, especially knowing that my oldest son will be doing it along with me!  :)   Would you like to join us?  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Some Not-So-Expected Strategies for Saving $$$

     This time of year (and in this economy!) we are all trying to be careful how we spend our money.  We'd all probably like a little extra cash as Christmas approaches***.  Below are listed some ways you can do this.  (I found the list in a Home Life magazine.)

7 Practical Strategies for Saving:

1. Hang out with frugal friends.   Do not try to keep up with the Joneses.  Instead, save with the Smiths.

2. Wash hands often.  Fewer germs means fewer trips to the doctor.  Cha-ching~!

3.  Turn off the tube.  TV ads make adults and children want new stuff. If you watch less, you'll probably want less.  Want to save even more?  Cancel cable.

4.  Never shop for clothes until you've done the laundry.

5.  Skip the drive-through.  Always have the ingredients for a few quick, easy, affordable meals in the pantry for those times you are pinched for time.  Spaghetti anyone?

6.  Love where you live.  Consider the hotel bill paid in full while you take advantage of local parks, museums, libraries and festivals.

7.  Do-it-yourself.  Think you don't have time?  It may be faster to do it yourself than to earn the money to pay someone else to wash the car, mow the lawn, clean the house, change the oil, and do your nails.  Pay yourself and put the money in savings. 

***A "just pitching our tent" reason to save $$$:  Remember, we shouldn't just save money so that we have more to spend.  One of the best motivations for saving money is so that you'll have more to give away. Help a needy family have Thanksgiving, give to missions, buy a stranger coffee, or however else God may lead you.   

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Clever Way to Learn Geography


      My boys have recently finished reading Around the World in 80 Days.  Our curriculum (Sonlight) suggested a great ending activity: to draw (freehand) a map of the world.  They then were to label and chart Phileas Fogg's adventure on the map they had drawn.  I thought this was such a great idea...a much better way to learn geography than boring worksheets!  My sons enjoyed it, as it was a real challenge and something new to them. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Handmade (All Natural) Liquid Soap

     I have told you about one of my favorite new blogs, Heavenly Homemakers.  I also told you I would be trying out some of her ideas/recipes and letting you know how it went.  I decided to try and make her liquid soap. 
     Have you ever read the ingredients to the liquid soap you buy at the store?  Pretty scary.  I had not really thought about it until I read her blog post about the soap.  I am one of those people who wash their hands A LOT, so I thought it would be a good idea to go for all-natural and cheap!! 
     I'm excited to share this process with you.  Making your own soap instead of buying it can save lots of money.  I think mine came to about a $1.00 per half gallon.  This would cost about $4-$5 in the store.  It also gives one a great sense of accomplishment.  And this is not even a real comparison, because my soap is organic....now, organic soap purchased at the store would be crazy expensive.

Here are the easy steps:

You will need a 4 oz. bar of soap.  I purchased mine at Publix.  There were several choices, but I chose one that did not smell "girly" since I live with 3 boys!  Grate the soap.

Bring a gallon of water to a STEAM.

I grated my soap while I waited for the water to steam. 

Stir in the grated soap until dissolved.  You may want to use a handmixer.  I just stirred mine.

Let it sit overnight.  Stir well.  Again, if you have one, use a handmixer.

I filled up my empty liquid soap container, as well as half of a gallon of an empty water jug.

Note:  I found that this soap needs shaking up some.  I also found that it works really well after it has been in the containers for about a week.  My family likes it (the boys haven't even noticed) and it smells wonderful.  Let me know if you decide to give it a try! 


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

GratiTuesday ("Skipping Thanksgiving")

     Have you heard?  Has anyone noticed?  It seems more obvious this year than ever before.  Yesterday (Halloween Day) as I walked into a store, I saw the store clerks clearing the shelves for all the Christmas decor and goodies.  (I had hoped this would mean great deals on fall things, but no such luck--there were not any to be found!)  "Christmas comes earlier every year" is something I've heard for as long as I can remember...but on Halloween morning???   It breaks my heart that the world seems to want to "skip" Thanksgiving---and head straight for "Happy Holidays".
     I really cannot blame the retailers or the world for this.  Many of them are lost.  They are also trying to make a buck in this economy.  I just don't want this notion of "skipping Thanksgiving" to seep into my heart.  I need to guard against that---everyday---not just in November. Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind...." 
     This topic brought up some great conversation with my family over lunch yesterday.  I really liked how my older son saw it.  He said it is not that upsetting that they are putting up Christmas things...because we love the real meaning of Christmas.  What was upsetting to him was the motivation behind it.  It was about "getting stuff" instead of celebrating Christ's birth.  (And then I said, "Son, would you like to be a guest blogger for me sometime?")
     Last night my family watched Swiss Family Robinson.  Our boys LOVED it!  Near the beginning of the movie, though, we noticed part of a scene was left out.  When the family escapes death and makes it to the shore of the island, they pause to pray and thank God for their safety. (Sound like a familiar story?)   As soon as you see them put their hands together, the movie went to commercial.  When the movie came back on, it was at a totally different scene!  They skipped the prayer!  They skipped "Thanksgiving"!
     So, on this "GratiTuesday"  I want to encourage you to to not "skip Thanksgiving".  Don't conform to the world.  Sure, go ahead and get some Christmas shopping done.  Order your Christmas cards.  Definitely fill up those shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.  Just don't forget about Thanksgiving and our Lord and Savior to whom we are eternally grateful!